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How to Make a Yeast Starter for Your Homebrew [May. 19th, 2010|03:25 pm]
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Decided I'd change it up here and offer something reasonably informative. As many readers know I brew my own beer with friends. One of the more advanced techniques but something you can do pretty easily is create a yeast starter 18-24 hours before you brew. This has the added effect of introducing more live viable yeast cells into your wort (pronounced "wert", it's beer that hasn't finished the brewing process) when you cast your yeast. This usually results in a better overall fermentation and a little higher alcohol content.

The first thing you'll need is to get a clean work area and assemble your ingredients:

A. 1 Pint of water (filtered = good, distilled = bad)
B. Bucket for sanitizer (I mix mine before I start anything)
C. Funnel
D. Grain extract (5tbsp dried or 6tbsp syrup as you see here)
E. Small saucepan with lid
F. Cork and airlock that fits your flask
G. Erlenmeyer flask
H. Yeast (liquid or dried, I use liquid) appropriate to the beer you're going to brew. Keep it refrigerated up until about 30 minutes before you start.
I. Fermaid (aka: yeast meth)
J. Sanitizing concentrate
K. Standard kitchen timer

Place your water in your pot and turn it on high, uncovered.

While the water comes to a boil, start sanitizing anything which will eventually come in contact with your yeast. I make it with warm water and make sure the funnel, flask, cork and airlock are all well sanitized. Let them sit in the mixture for the duration of your work until needed.

Pour yourself a beer to enjoy. This is an important step, don't skip it. You'll notice I've selected the very tasty Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale.

Once the water is boiling, turn off the heat momentarily and measure the necessary extract into the water (5tbsp for dry, 6 for liquid/syrup). Stir in until the sugar is in suspension.

Fire the heat back up and bring it back to a boil. Set a timer for 20 minutes. Consider not using flash on your camera.

Put two healthy pinches of Fermaid into the mix.

Keep an eye on your time, mixing occasionally.

At 5 minutes left decrease the heat a bit and put the lid on. Keep an eye on it as it can boil over quite easily and you don't want that to happen. Adjust heat as necessary.

Top off your beer as needed.

Realize that you apparently cut your foot on something while futzing about the house. Wonder at that. This step is purely optional.

When the timer goes off kill the heat, make sure the lid is intact, and sink the pot into an ice bath to cool it. You want to make VERY sure that the lid stays secure as now everything inside this pot is primed for microorganism growth but sterile.

Re-sanitize everything. All your equipment, your hands, everything.

Once the liquid in the pot has cooled (approximately 70-75 degrees F), empty all the sanitizer out of the funnel and flask. Uncover the mixture and with as little exposure as possible pour it directly into the flask via the funnel.

Open your yeast and pour it in after the mixture.

Immediately place the stopper and airlock on top. The airlock should be about halfway filled with the sanitizer to make a nice seal where air can escape out but nothing can get in. Shake vigorously to mix everything and aerate the mixture.

Let it sit overnight. After about 4-8 hours you'll probably see a pale mixture condensing on the bottom with tiny bubbles floating up to the top. You might also see the airtrap in the airlock bubble out on occasion, this is a sign that your yeast is healthy and eating up all that food you left it. Total time, about 45 minutes.

When you brew the following day, cast your yeast starter when you'd usually cast your dried or liquid yeast.

From: valdelane
2010-05-20 05:19 pm (UTC)
Very interesting! *files away for future reference*
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[User Picture]From: khayman
2010-05-20 05:50 pm (UTC)
Pretty cool! But a lot of work...
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